By Scott Huddleston
By the end of the year, Audie Murphy VA Hospital plans to open San Antonio's first Fisher House situated outside a military base.
The $6 million privately funded house will have 16 guest rooms and 15,000 square feet for families of veterans and military personnel receiving treatment or rehabilitative care.
The fall dedication of the nation's fifth Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, next to the hospital, put Audie Murphy on a list for the Fisher House. Patients with combat injuries and other complex issues who are in polytrauma centers stay an average of 36 to 63 days, according to a recent Veterans Affairs report.
Dave Coker, president of the Fisher House Foundation, said his father just had a heart procedure in Charleston, S.C., where relatives are staying in a motel across town. Military veterans and their families “deserve nothing less than the very best,” he said.
The first local Fisher House, at Lackland AFB, was dedicated in 1992. There are now three at Lackland and four at Fort Sam Houston.
J.R. Garza, a Vietnam veteran, said families used to sleep in their cars outside veterans' hospitals in the 1970s.
“It's a community working together that makes this possible,” Garza said.
The 2010 grand opening of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa raised more than $900,000 to aid the Fisher Houses and other charities for the wounded. USAA raised more than $237,555 for the new house at a bowl-a-thon last week.
To ask about volunteer opportunities, contact the VA at 210-617-5107 or StxVolSvc@va.gov.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski